Well, another one went down last night, falling in battle on the blood-soaked fields of American Idol. It was sad, like all endings are sad, but it was about time for this person. They'd been almost all the way through the wringer before. Now they're finally wrung out.
The show began like any other, with silly Seacrest introducing the kids via shitty group number. They cleaved the group in twain, with Jacob, Lauren, Haley, and Stefano coming out first to sing Train's "Hey Soul Sister." Which, ugh. Firstly, that song is at least partially about blowjobs, and is therefore in no way appropriate to sing on American Teenqueef. It is also maybe not an appropriate song for this person to sing, ever? I just think it might not be a song that should be sung. Sure, sure, I know Darren Crisstal sang it on Gleej and everyone loves that, but it's just a song that should probably be buried under Mt. Rushmore and not touched for a long, long time. If ever again. Maybe it should never be touched again. Leave it down there in that dark vault forever, kept steady company by the Smashmouth oeuvre.
A small bit later the remaining dudes, Casey, James, and Lock'emdoors, came out and warbled "Viva La Vida" by Chris Martin & the Paltrow Players, and it was so bad. I mean, "Hey Soul Sister" was terrible as well, but that song is so terrible that sometimes it's hard to tell where the bad song ends and the bad performance begins. But "Viva La Vida" is, arguably, a pretty decent pop song, so the quavery non-voices of these three gimmicky crooners were laid pretty bare with this performance, which sounded like someone dropping a xylophone down the stairs. All misplaced, chaotic plunks and whunks and resonant clunks. Even the judges could barely pretend to clap or smile after the thing had, with embarrassing dramatic flair, come to an end. Then Ryan came out and was like "I should mention Stepz McKenzie, who choreographed both of those numbers." Ohhh, yes. Must credit the person who was like "OK, then walk over there. Yup, and then you swing around and awkwardly bop back and forth over here. Now stand with a wide stance here and just sorta lift your hand up toward the heavenly rafters on that note. Perfect." It's pretty, pretttyyyy impressive choreography, so I'm glad Ryan took the time to credit its creator. Gooo, Stepz!
Moving on. It was time then for the real professionals to perform. First came Season 7 "winner" David Cook, a fuzzy, egg-like creature who sang a new song called "The Last Goodbye." Exsqueeze me, Jeff Buckley? Well, no, it was not a cover of "Last Goodbye," it was a new jam called "The Last Goodbye," a muddle of emotions and Cookian sentimentalities with lyrics like "We were almost beautiful / A broken piece of art put on display / But we were never possible / Another perfect moment thrown away." Sad story. Sadder still when you consider that he's singing about David Archuleta.
So that was the requisite 19 Entertainment desperate plug, next came the Big Star performance, and it was from... Katy Perry!!! Yessss!!!!! I love Katy Perry so much. She seems very smart and fun and she is just great. She came out to sing her new song "E.T." about aliens from outer space, and she was joined by one of those aliens, Kanye West! Quite an exciting duo of totally likable people! Ahem. But yeah, Perry fake-sang this dumb song and she had this LED light costume and there were all these lasers and I thought to myself, this looks really dumb now, like we know this is silly and dumb and trying way too hard, but if you showed this, or a Lady Gaga type thing, to someone in the 1950s or '60s or something, it would look so futuristic and crazy. Right? I mean, basically they are doing everything that bands did in issues of Archie 3000, and those were written in like the '80s! I mean, time travelers would look at this and deduce that we are all cold plastic weirdos who like electronic music and space. I mean, are we? We might be. But yeah, it's funny to think about. I mean, imagine a bobby soxer or some greaser traveling into the future and seeing someone watching Katy Perry's stupid alien performance on their iPad or something. I mean, they would pass out! My god it would blow their minds. Then they'd see on TV that there's a black president and they would just burst into a jumble of confusion and molecules, never to reassemble again. Funny to think about, anyway.
Um, OK. I think we're there. Ryan assembled the bottom three, which contained no surprises this week. It was Jacob, Stefano, and Haley. Yup, that's the way things are going on this show now. Ryan immediately went over to the stools and weirdly whisper-released Haley back to the Couches of Comfort ("You're safe...." he tentatively hissed, it was creepy), so it was just Jacob and Stefano, our two bottom boys. In terms of merit, Jacob deserves to be in the competition at this point far more than Stefano, even if Jacob is kind of annoying with his aggressive grabbing for your heartstrings, but really neither of them would be any great loss to the competition. The judges reflected this fact by offering no pained cries of "Oh no, this is too bad, etc etc," instead saying "You know what, you both made it this far, that's great, more things await you." Randy kindly pointed out that the finale is only five weeks away, and they'd have an opportunity to perform then, so that was nice of him, to consider them like that. To reassure them.
So it was with relatively calm spirits that the two stood there and Ryan read Stefano's name. A few halfhearted boos wafted up from the crowd to the stage, but mostly people seemed resigned. Stefano himself looked ready to meet his maker, took it in stride, said "I'm just really excited to sing right now!", which was pretty cool of him. Ryan... well, Ryan had a series of funny, strange expressions on his face. He can be such an unreadable little seal sometimes, can't he? I'd imagine his thoughts were already jumping ahead, past the formal goodbye party and on to the private one, with the champagne and low light and jumble of taut skin and muscle and rough kisses. I'd imagine he's a little relieved now, knowing that he won't have to sneak around the office with Stefano for the next few weeks. He can just put him back at the house with Tim and the two of them can get to know each other a bit more.
Of course that worries Ryan a little bit. That they might bond and form a wall blocking him out. Of course he did briefly think about that last night as he stood and listened to Stefano's goodbye belt. He had no idea what might happen. But that's the thing about the future, the not knowing. The guessing and planning and hoping and coaxing, yes, but ultimately the never knowing. Ryan took a deep breath, put his professional smile back on, exclaimed "Stefano Langone, ladies and gentlemen," and the roar of the crowd drowned out, for the moment, any of his worried thoughts.
As the credits rolled, the judges came up and gave hugs. James Durbin, who had been crying on the couches, I guess he and Stefano were close, collected himself and walked over to the mass of embraces and pats on the back and all the other stuff people to do to say "I am here, and you are here, right now." Here's a person. Here's me. Here's all of us together, all breathing the same close air for as long as they'll let us.